We have all lost our temper with it, shouted back at it, huffed and sighed at it. The ‘it’ we are referring to here is the self-checkout voice that infuriatingly says “Unexpected item in bagging area – remove this item from before continuing”, when you clearly have not put anything in said area.
To stop the meltdowns at the checkouts in their stores, Tesco’s has decided to remove this voice. Following a series of complaints from frustrated customers, the supermarket giant has found a new voice for its self-service checkout machines.
The whole point of self-checkout is to cut out the need for staff. With that ‘unexpected item’ voice, the machine will not let you continue until one of the staff have to come over to resolve the issue, somewhat defeating the object of the machine.
Tesco says customers found the old female voice “shouty” and “irritating”, so it’s swapped it for a male voice. The switch from female to male has raised accusations of sexism, but Tesco insisted the gender was not their “main consideration.”
“Customers really like the convenience of our self-service checkouts, especially when they’re just popping into store to pick up lunch or a few items after work. But for some, the voice leaves them a bit frustrated,” said Jame Dewen, self-service checkout operations manager at Tesco.
“It’s listened to by millions of customers every week, so we’ve acted on customer and colleague feedback and worked hard to get the new voice right to improve the shopping trip.”
Tesco has also reworded six of the most annoying phrases based on customer feedback. And best of all, the “unexpected item in bagging area” phrase has been axed altogether.
The new voice is already in action at Hatfield, Peterborough, Edinburgh and Kensington, and will be rolled out across the UK by the end of October.